PHNOM PENH – A court on Tuesday sentenced an American man to a decade in jail for sexually abusing girls as young as five, part of the latest effort to deter foreign paedophiles.
Brian Naswall, the 53-year-old CEO of Aero Cambodia, a small aviation firm based in Phnom Penh, was arrested last year, reportedly in the act of abusing three underage girls. Since he was detained, a total of nine victims have accused Naswall of abuse.
Naswall denied the charges during his trial and claimed the case was fabricated.
But Phnom Penh’s Municipal court on Tuesday found the American guilty of engaging in child prostitution and sentenced him to 10 years in prison.
The court also ordered Naswall to pay US$16,000 in compensation, which will be split among eight victims.
The director of Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE), an NGO that hunts down suspected foreign paedophiles in Cambodia, called for Naswall to be deported after he serves his sentence.
“We applaud the ruling. It is reasonable and acceptable,” APLE director Seila Samleang said.
A member of Naswall’s legal team told reporters that his client would appeal the ruling.
Cambodia’s grim reputation as a child sex hub attracted global attention in 2002 when British glam rocker and serial paedophile Gary Glitter was deported over suspected sexual offences.
The country launched a drive in 2003 to shed its reputation as a haven for foreign paedophiles.
Dozens of foreigners have since been prosecuted for child sex crimes but there are still wide gaps in policing.
A landmark study released last month by a coalition of nearly 70 child protection agencies looking at child sex abuse around the world said that while some successes have been made in Southeast Asia, paedophilia remains an “enduring phenomenon that has plagued the region for several decades”.